Vitamin D Deficiency May Explain Higher Rate of Low Birthweight Babies Among African Americans

AA BabyA study by researchers at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh finds that women who are deficient in vitamin D early in their pregnancies are more likely than other women to give birth to low-weight babies. The study found that mothers with low levels of vitamin D during their first 26 weeks of pregnancy delivered babies that were on average 46 grams lighter than mothers who were not deficient in vitamin D. Only full-term babies were included in the data.

Alison Gernand, a postdoctoral associate in the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author of the study, stated, “A mother’s vitamin D level early in pregnancy may impact the growth of her baby later in pregnancy. Also, if the mother was deficient in vitamin D during the first trimester, her baby had twice the risk of suffering from growth restriction in utero.”

The study is of particular importance to Black women. Vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin by exposure to sunlight but due to their darker skin African American women need more exposure to sunlight in order to absorb a sufficient level of vitamin D. About half of Black women in the United States are vitamin D deficient compared to 5 percent of White women.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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  1. Thanks for this very timely piece of medical information. Many women, especially women of color, do not realize the importance that Vitamin D plays in children’s growth and development.

    Just as important is the role that the deficiency of this vitamin plays in autoimmune diseases/disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

    For a closer look at why Vitamin D is crucial in our lives, look up Dr. Nina Jablonsky’s article, “Skin”.

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